28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?” 29 “This is the most important,” Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. 33 And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
During the last week of Jesus’ ministry on earth He does some of His greatest teaching. His ability to communicate complex theological truth in simple illustrations puts Him at odds with the religious leaders of the day. They make their living creating spiritual conundrums for the people attempting to live a pious life. And the more holy you become, the more complicated the rules seem to be.
In this passage one of the scribes attempts to bait Him into an oversimplification. Unknowingly, he plays right into Jesus’ hand, and the way the Lord answers his question takes all of the law and puts it into two simple statements. What are the two statements? Love God and love your neighbor. If you do those two things, you have kept the law.
Think about it – God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The first four have to do with how we relate to God – the last six address to how we relate to other people. Jesus summed up all ten with His simple answer to the scribe’s question. Simple enough.
Have you ever put together a swing set? As far as I’m concerned, putting a swing set together is one of the rites of passage to fatherhood. You’re really not in the “Dad” club until you have put together at least one swing set. Complicated is not even the word for it. Conspiracy is more like it. Somewhere there is a place for the people who create the directions for swing sets. And it’s place I don’t want to go.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would have been great at writing out directions for swing set assembly. They wanted serving God to be as complicated as it possibly could be, so their piety could stand out even more and so they could have control over people by judging everyone’s best efforts at observing the law.
And then Jesus came along.
Just like the scribe, we tend to make worship more complicated than it really is. We make worship an event we attend or a sacrament we perform to earn God’s favor. But Jesus said it like this – if we love God and love people we will be living the right kind of life. Our lives will be a living sacrifice as Paul describes it in Romans 12. The expression of our praise will follow our living out of these two simple commands. Love God. Love people. If we do, we will be worshipping indeed.
In what ways can you love God in your daily living? How does loving God enable you to love people? Can you think of a time in your life when you were active in worship expression, yet were weak in following these two simple commands? How does following these two greatest commandments influence the worship expression of your life as you gather with God’s people in corporate worship?